Many students have probably heard about the Executive and Legislative branches of the Associated Students of Colorado State University. You know, the ones who pass legislation in the senate and create events and programming, among other things. However, you may not be as familiar with the students who run the ASCSU Supreme Court, the Judicial Branch.
The Supreme Court consists of seven justices with Chief Justice Jacob Stein at the head of it all – There is one Deputy Chief Justice and five Associate Justices that fill the branch. To gain a better understanding of what someone like Stein does on a daily basis, I’ll take a deeper look into his involvement around campus through the role of chief justice.
Either pre-admission hearings or conduct hearings may fill up the morning.
Conduct reports come from community members, RA’s or police reports, which are pulled frequently from local agencies. Conduct hearings happen when students appeal sanctions from the conduct resolution process through the Student Resolution Center. Two ASCSU Justices sit on the Conduct Hearings Board, which reviews whether or not the sanctions are fitting for the findings in a student conduct case. Sanctions can include everything from suspension and expulsion to counseling and substance abuse treatment.
The unique array of appeal topics is why it is important to have student perspectives on the Conduct Hearings Board.
“There are times where students do things that are pretty stupid, but people our age actually do,” Stein said. “Sometimes I have to say to other members on the board, ‘No, this is a thing people do nowadays.”
Stein says the board reviews everything from assaults in Old Town after the bars close to drug and alcohol use and everything in between. These hearings can take anywhere from five minutes to a few hours. The board members vote after hearing the appeal and they can either affirm or amend the findings to say something they think is more reasonable. Stein estimated that at least 2/3 of the hearings are affirmed.
Pre-admission hearings take place when a student who has a criminal history or conduct history applies to CSU. Two ASCSU justices sit on the Pre-Admission Hearings Board.
There are busy seasons and lulls based on when students are applying to the University. Stein had about ten of those hearings this summer and was on call during that time.
After conduct and pre-admission hearings in the morning, Stein typically comes into the ASCSU office complex where he reviews items like requests for opinions and internal complaints or meets with senate leadership to prepare for the upcoming senate sessions. Sessions take place every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Senate Chambers. Stein is also in the loop on any potential impeachments, resignations and the like.
After office hours, Stein heads to class where he studies civil engineering in between his Chief Justice duties. The Supreme Court tries to meet weekly in a casual gathering to review recent happenings.
Evenings for Stein and the Associate Justices sometimes consist of involvement with All-University Hearing Board, which typically sees fraternity and sorority organizations and sports clubs who may have gotten in trouble with conduct on campus, although it could include any student organization registered with SLiCE.
The AUHB decides on the sanctions for these organizations, which can consist of anything besides removal from campus. The most severe thing can be a recommendation for removal from campus, which would then get sent to the director of the Conduct Office and the Dean of Students. Stein says the AUHB board has never made that recommendation in his 4 years on the board.
“Usually, if an organization is being removed from campus, they have come through the AUHB process several times already in a fairly short amount of time,” Stein said. “We have a few frequent fliers.”
He said the goal at hand is not to be punitive but is to promote restorative justice. The AUHB wants to make sure the organization will be a productive member of campus and upholding what they say their goals and values are.
Rams Know Your Rights is a campaign being introduced through the Judicial Branch, aiming to inform CSU students about their rights on campus. Although this information doesn’t count as legal counsel, it provides information for questions like, “Do you have to open your dorm door when the police are knocking?” and other common questions. This campaign will launch later in the school year.
Overall, the ASCSU Supreme Court is here to serve students and ensure their fair treatment in appeals and hearings around campus. Stein and the Associate Justices can be found in the ASCSU office complex, or at ASCSU_Supreme_Court@mail.colostate.edu.
“We kind of hide in the shadows, but try to keep our ears open too,” Stein said.
Collegian writer and ASCSU member Chrissy Vessa can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @chrissyvessa.